It’s Autumn! Get Out and Hike

You don't need to go far from town to enjoy a fall hike complete with golden aspens

You don't need to go far from town to enjoy a fall hike complete with golden aspens

Ah, September in Sun Valley: Cool mornings and evenings; warm sunny days; the always-evolving alchemy of aspen leaves as they turn bright gold. Though each season here certainly has its merits, there is something truly spectacular about autumn.

And with the children back in school, the booked-to-the-minute fun of Labor Day weekend behind us, it’s time to get out there and take a hike. Though many local trails were temporarily closed in August due to the Beaver Creek Fire, right now, local hiking is at its peak.

The Hemingway Memorial is a beautiful tribute to the author and a gateway to terrific local hikes

The Hemingway Memorial is a beautiful tribute to the author and a gateway to terrific local hikes

Whether you have lived in Sun Valley your entire life or are just visiting for the weekend, a great place to start a September hike is at the Hemingway Memorial just east of the Sun Valley Lodge on Trail Creek Road. The memorial features a likeness of the legendary writer who completed For Whom the Bell Tolls in suite 206 at the Lodge, and is tucked beneath shady trees on the banks of Trail Creek. Stone benches in the shape of a half moon offer a place to sit and reflect on the inscription that reminds Hemingway is laid to rest in the Ketchum Cemetery:

Best of all he loved the fall
The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
Leaves floating on the trout streams
And above the hills
The high blue windless skies
Now he will be a part of them forever.

From this very unique, and very nearby, trailhead, miles of beautiful single track wend through Proctor Mountain. For the novice, gentle walks lead along the creek and east. Craving more vertical? Numerous trails climb to the saddle of Proctor, offering fantastic views in every direction, including one of the best ones around of Baldy. If you’re up for a challenge, the Ruud Mountain trail cuts steeply right to the more traditional Proctor Mountain trails, leading to, and beyond, one of the first chairlifts in the world.

Bald Mountain in the warmer months offers stunning vistas and great exercise to those on foot

Bald Mountain in the warmer months offers stunning vistas and great exercise to those on foot

Also “in town” are popular hiking and biking trails near the White Clouds golf course across from Sun Valley Resort. Don’t forget Bald Mountain offers a great cardiac workout, terrific views and the possibility of a fabulous lunch to reward you for your efforts. Start at the River Run side of the hill and bear right to the Bald Mountain Trail. This leads, in switchbacks, both to the Roundhouse Restaurant (offering a fabulous barbecue deck lunch through September 8), and all the way to the summit. If you want to channel your inner local, head straight up the Warm Springs or River Run ski runs to the top. It’s an unbeatable workout and who knows, maybe you will want to take the Baldy Hill Climb later this month.

Slightly further afield, but still a very short drive from town, the Adams Gulch trailhead just north of Ketchum provides many trail options for hiking and mountain biking, as do Chocolate Gulch and Fox Creek. To the east, a hike to the historic Pioneer Cabin (there are three different routes up) is one of the most beautiful in the area. In the fall, this very popular hike is more lightly traveled and it is the perfect time to go.

The walk up to Pioneer Cabin is beautiful, but the real pay out is cresting the final ridge

The walk up to Pioneer Cabin is beautiful, but the real payout is cresting the final ridge

For all these hikes, remember, even if the trailhead is right up the street, you are in altitude and the autumn weather can be variable so be prepared. Bring plenty of water and a light rain shell, layers, wear comfortable sturdy shoes, bring a snack or lunch and sunscreen is a must.

For a full list of current trail conditions, please click HERE.

September is the most beautiful hiking month in the Wood River Valley, at least by my account. Take some time for yourself, get out there and hit the trails!


A Walk In the Woods, Sun Valley Style

The Valley unfolds below during this short, pretty hike up Baldy

September and October are hands-down my favorite months in the Wood River Valley. I love the shoulder-season feel in town when you can again wave at the driver of nearly every car you pass. I love the mineral smell of the Big Wood River when it’s low and unhurried. Most of all, I love the coin-shaped leaves of the aspens as they turn bright gold and light up the hills. I love the warm Indian summer days and the cool bite of autumn nights. Conventional wisdom holds that people come to Sun Valley for the winter and return because of our amazing summers. If they knew about the fall, they would never leave.

Hiking is the perfect way to capitalize on everything that is so amazing about the season. On a sunshiny September Sunday, I decided to walk up to Lookout on Bald Mountain. This hike is one of my in-town, don’t-have-much-time, but crave-pretty-scenery picks. It is short (1.7 miles each way), and not too steep. The route begins at the base of River Run and wends up the Bald Mountain Trail until it reaches the wooden platform built over the edge of the mountain that is the Lookout.

My hiking buddies were my friend, Chris, and my dog, Annabel. Since Chris is male, I did not expect much of the continuous banter and exchanged confidences that typify any hike I take with my girlfriends. But sometimes that is nice. Hiking in silence provides a great workout – you go faster when you’re not yapping. For me, hiking, like skiing, is a meditation of sorts. The slightly jarring rhythm of putting one foot in front of the other, heel-toe, heel-toe, and the varying pattern of my breath help clear my mind. Altitude is the ultimate mind clearer, too. The famous saying painted onto the roof of Pioneer Cabin (a fabulous hike if you’re looking for one) – The Higher You Get, The Higher You Get – is a self-evident truth. Standing at the edge of the Lookout, with Ketchum spread below and the sublime Pioneer mountain range in the distance, you can’t help but find some peace.

Given the time, from Lookout, I like to keep going up, up, up. The trail leads to Roundhouse (during summer, I usually “reward” myself for the hike with lunch on the deck, and more often that not, a glass of wine) or to the top of the hill. Riding the lift down, it is great fun to see my favorite ski runs bursting with colorful wildflowers and thigh-high vegetation. It makes me appreciate the volume of snowfall it takes to cover all that. And even in the middle of July, it makes me yearn just a bit for ski season. But there is still another good month of hiking left. For now, I will enjoy the ascent and look forward to the descent.

The Lookout platform is a great place to catch your breath

“Fall in Sun Valley is the best of all…” -Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway wrote about it for good reason: fall in Sun Valley is the best of all and this year is no exception.
Music with Marley and The Blind Boys of Alabama, the Sun Valley Harvest Festival, the gnarly Baldy Hill Climb and even a fun Bocce Ball Contest all kick-off the fall season in Sun Valley.

The Sun Valley Music Festival Saturday, September 25 will bring legends of Gospel to the Sun Valley Pavilion for the first time. The Blind Boys of Alabama interpret everything from traditional Gospel to contemporary spiritual material from legends like Curtis Mayfield, Eric Clapton and Prince. The Blind Boys will be joined by New York City’s Bill Sims Jr. and Lew Soloff, and local’s favorite The Paul Tillotson Love Trio. Tickets are $45 at the Sun Valley Recreation Center (208) 622-2135 or online at

Harvest Food & Wine Festival

The Sun Valley Harvest Festival, September 24-26, is strategically planned for this time of year so chefs and participants can take full advantage of the local harvest. Sun Valley’s newest culinary event will offer fun-filled activities centered around sustainable regional food, wine and beer. It will focus on educating about foods available regionally and how to connect with local farmers, and also interesting ways to prepare these foods. For more information visit, or call 208-450-6430.

Friday, September 24 the Night Bocce World Championships and the Dick Barrymore Ski Movie Tribute will be held at River Run 6-10 pm.
Marley In The Mountains – Harvesting of the Vibes Reggae concert will feature Richie Spice of St. Andrew, Jamaica and is planned for Saturday, September 25 at 9pm at the Ketchum Town Plaza.

The Baldy Hill Climb starts at 8 am on Saturday, September 25 on the Warm Springs side of Baldy and will be sponsored by the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation. A long-time local challenge, the Baldy Hill Climb is a great family event. (To sign up call 208-726-4129).

Also, the last day for gondola rides and lunch at Baldy’s Roundhouse will be Sunday, September 26. The Sun Valley Fall Golf Package will come to a close September 25, however, the Late Fall Golf Package begins the next day and will run through the end of the season.

And finally, after participating in all or many of these events, you might like to take a seat in Sun Valley’s Opera House to view "Ride The Divide – 2,700 miles, Canada to Mexico, Alone." The special film will be shown one night only Tuesday, September 28 at 7:30 pm and will be sponsored by Pete Lane’s Mountain Sports and the Elephant’s Perch. Tickets are $10 at the door or online at

Big October events include The Trailing of the Sheep, October 8-10, the Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree October 13-17, The Sun Valley Harvest Film Festival October 22-23 and Crosstoberfest on October 30-31.
For additional information please visit